One of the more useful reports used by the legislature is the Budget and Fiscal Trends report produced for legislators by the Legislative Council. It boils the state’s spending tends down into easy-to-read charts.
Legislators just got their most recent copy of the report this morning, and a few of them were kind enough to forward the report on to me. The full report is below, and is very much worth your time to page through (it’s not that long and, again, pretty easy to understand at a glance) but the legislators who sent me the report flagged this chart specifically as shocking.
It shows appropriations to higher education in comparison to growth in enrollment. As you can see, one of those lines is relative flat and one is not:
What you are looking at (aside from the fact that our university system is nearing $1 billion in biennial general fund appropriations!) is a 150% increase in general fund appropriations to higher education (assuming the legislature follows Governor Dalrymple’s executive budget recommendation) and just an 8.7% increase in enrollment.
And yet, our universities claim they need more funding.
In a perfect world, the legislature would cap appropriations at last biennium’s levels and tell the university system to find the money they need by re-prioritizing the windfall in funding they’ve already received.
But that probably won’t happen.